How to Monitor Downmix Outputs

What’s the best way to monitor my stereo and mono downmix outputs? I want to monitor the respective output while adjusting the downmix settings in MixConvert V6. Here’s my setup:

I’ve got three outputs defined in Studio > Audio Connections… > Outputs:

  • Surround Out
  • Stereo Out
  • Mono Out

In addition, I’ve got two channels that route my Master bus (5.1) to the Stereo Out and Mono Out outputs (and give me access to MixConvert V6 for adjusting downmix levels):

  • Downmix Stereo
  • Downmix Mono

I use the Control Room feature, so all output buses are “Not Connected.” [To be clear, the Stereo Out and Mono Out Outputs are used only for exporting downmixes.]

In Studio > Audio Connections… > Control Room, I’ve got just the Surround Out configured, called “Genelecs,” with six channels.

The Control Room panel allows me to monitor downmixes of the Surround Out output bus but without the ability to adjust levels (e.g., center channel, LS/RS, LFE). Furthermore, a Control Room downmix can’t be exported, so there’s no point in tweaking those settings here, even if you could. [Or, am I missing something?] Without the ability to adjust (or export) those things in Control Room, I instead need to monitor the Stereo Out or Mono Out output bus while adjusting downmix levels in MixConvert V6 for the corresponding Downmix channel. But those Outputs can’t be monitored! If I try to create Control Room channels for, say, “Genelecs - Stereo” and “Genelecs - Mono” , I’m told those channels (LF/RF or C) are already in use by channel “Genelecs.” Ugh!

My solution has been to export, listen, re-open the project, tweak downmix settings, and repeat. It’s pretty awful.

Surely, there’s a better way to monitor, adjust, and export downmixes?

Any advice is appreciated.

Hi you,
I vaguely remember a setting that allows to use outputs multiple times - not sure whether it does what you need in the control room … just a vague attempt to help.

HTH Ernst

Interesting. What you have is this:

So this is not enough?

But true, once you hit Export in Cubase your controls are set if that’s what your talking about. I’m sure you understand why this would be.

Can you insert a MixConvert into the control room? Leave your output device as your surround output, but enable MixConvert to hear what it will sound like in stereo. Once you’re happy with it, copy the MixConvert to your downmix channel.

hi david,

did the hint to make outputs usable multiple times help?

Thanks for the help, guys!

Now that you mention it, if I were to disable the Control Room altogether, I could use those outputs multiple times. Unfortunately, I rely on the Control Room pretty heavily.

I’m not aware of any way to use hardware outs multiple times once they’re assigned to an output in the Control Room. If there’s a trick to achieve this, please let me know!

I went to investigate this and discovered the hidden ‘Select Output Configuration’ dropdown buttons next to each downmix button in the Control Room. [Maybe it’s a UI glitch, but they’re blacked out until you click on 'em. Then, you get a proper gray button with a dropdown arrow indicator on it.] In that menu, there’s an option to reveal MixConvert for the respective downmix and, yes, you can adjust the settings in real time while monitoring playback. Perfect!

Unfortunately, there’s still no way to export the project with those Control Room downmix settings. If I do File > Export > Audio Mixdown… and choose ‘Surround Out’ for the Export Channel, it ignores the Control Room settings and produces a 5.1 mix (no downmix, even though ‘Stereo Downmix’ is selected in Control Room). The only option, as you suggested, is to manually copy the MixConvert settings from the respective Control Room downmix to my ‘Downmix Stereo’ channel, for example. At some point, I will forget to do this and deliver a subpar mix to mastering.

It would be nice if the Audio Mixdown… panel offered some additional options. For example, in the Channels to Export > Export Channel drop down menu, Cubase could offer a new section (e.g., Output channels, Group channels), called ‘Control Room’ with all of the available CR downmix presets (and cues and headphone mixes too?) available to choose from. One need only choose Control Room > Stereo Downmix, for example, to produce the desired downmix. Or, choose Control Room > Cue 1, for example, to produce a mix for your singers to take home and rehearse with.

Or, is there a way to link two instances of MixConvert - one in the Control Room and the other in my ‘Downmix Stereo’ channel?

Thanks again for your help.

Yeah, that’s kind of the whole point of the Control Room…it never influences the export :slight_smile:. In one sense, you’re using it in the reverse manner it’s intended to be used, since you’re using it to find settings that you want in the export.

Maybe someone will have a better idea, but the best option I can think of is to tailor your workflow to ensure you never accidentally get the wrong settings in your export MixConvert. For example, set the output levels to -inf until you do the copy.

I can’t argue with that. The Control Room is a nice feature that emulates traditional monitoring sections / controllers nicely.

So, I guess this is a problem that isn’t new. I haven’t worked with any of the multichannel monitor controllers on the market, but I understand they offer similar features - namely, the option to perform on-the-fly downmixes. Personally, I don’t see the point. Why would you want to have different downmix settings for your Genelecs, vs your NS10s, vs your MixCubes, for example? Hmmm.

Oh, well, I suppose it’s a feature that I can choose to use or not.

I’m toying with another potential solution: Instead of routing my downmix groups to output channels, route them through another set of groups. So, create groups:

  • Monitor Surround
  • Monitor Stereo
  • Monitor Mono

Also, rename my Surround Out channel “Genelecs” and create a new 5.1 null output, called Surround Out, so I have null outs in the proper channel configuration for all three - surround, stereo, and mono.

And route things accordingly:

  • Master > (send) > Monitor Surround > Surround Out
  • Master > (send) > Downmix Stereo > Monitor Stereo > Stereo Out
  • Master > (send) > Downmix Mono > Monitor Mono > Mono Out

Furthermore, each Monitor group would Send to the Genelecs output.

Now, I can solo the desired Monitor group and adjust the corresponding MixConvert settings in real time. And, when it comes to exporting, I can choose the corresponding null output. [If I get a silent export, then I forgot to solo the proper monitor channel.]


Suddenly, copying the MixConvert settings from CR to my downmix channels before exporting seems a lot simpler.


HI David – I am still confused that reusing monitor outputs does not work in your setup. The manual clearly states: “Monitor channels, however, can share device ports with each other as well as inputs and outputs. This can be helpful if you use the same speakers as a ste-reo pair and also as the left and right channels of a surround speaker configuration. Switching between monitors that share device ports will be seamless, providing any downmix of multi-channel audio to ste-reo if needed”.

I also remember vaguely that I have set up shared monitor outputs myself.

HTH, Ernst

As a matter of fact, this does solve the problem of monitoring my stereo downmix channels. For anyone interested, the option is located in Preferences… > VST > Control Room > Exclusive Device Ports for Monitor Channels and is enabled by default. Disabling this option allowed me to route my Stereo Out and Mono Out output channels to the L, R, and C monitors already assigned to my “Genelecs” monitors in the Control Room.

Unfortunately, this arrangement creates some new problems. First, as this bypasses the Control Room, your monitoring level is 100% (0 dBFS), or in other words $%*& loud. And when we drop the slider on the Stereo Out (or Mono Out) channel to compensate, our export is affected. So, there’s another thing to remember every time we export and, oh, we better not forget to drop back that slider when we’re done, or we’ll be getting a punch in the eardrums.

Furthermore, you can’t easily compare the surround, stereo, and mono mixes because you must now manage all three channels independently. I suspect there’s a way to do an exclusive solo, but it’s sorta moot at this point.

So, my solution (for the moment, anyways) is this:

  1. Do my surround mix
  2. Choose stereo (or mono) downmix in the Control Room
  3. Adjust MixConvert levels to taste [I can hear it now - thanks, guys!]
  4. Copy final MixConvert levels to MixConvert instance on Stereo Downmix (or Mono Downmix) channel
  5. Export the project (File > Export > Audio Mixdown… > Export Channel: Stereo Out (or Mono Out))
  6. Open exported file in WaveLab
  7. Add any stereo (or mono) effects that couldn’t be heard (and therefore setup properly) on the Stereo Out (or Mono Out) output channels (e.g., master bus compression, tape saturation)
  8. Export again

Done. If this mix is destined for mastering, I might skip the master bus compression, saturation, etc. But, if it’s a demo, for example, I’ll add these to generate something more on par with a commercial release.

Thank you for pointing that option out though. I should’ve investigated it when you first mentioned it.

I believe the best solution would indeed be to offer the Control Room’s ‘outputs’ as options in the Audio Mixdown… panel. The Export Channel drop down menu could offer a new ‘Control Room’ section, with options for all CR monitors and downmixes (and the Cue and Headphone channels too). So, for example, I would choose Control Room > Genelecs > Stereo. I can’t imagine a more intuitive or efficient way to do it.